I’M FLASH! (Japan, 2012)
Co-Presentation with JAPAN CUTS (opening film!)
92 minutes, 35 mm, in Japanese with live English subtitles
Directed by: Toshiaki Toyoda
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kiko Mizuhara, Shigeru Nakano
Wild boy director Toshiaki Toyoda has been a NYAFF and Japan Cuts favorite, releasing UFOs (unidentified film objects) like his minimalist samurai arthouse experiment, Blood of Rebirth, and his semi-abstract Unabomber biopic Monsters’ Club, but now he returns to his pulp roots and finds full-blown glory to deliver a sun-drenched gangster thriller that exists somewhere between early Takeshi Kitano (on a few pounds of opium), and a diurnal version of Winding Refn’s Drive.
Donning a rockstar suntan and obscenely healthy good looks, Tatsuya Fujiwara (whose Battle Royale pretty boy-ness are fading in favor of a manlier presence) plays Rui Yoshino, the charismatic celebrity leader of a lucrative religious sect calling itself “Life is Beautiful”. Life is indeed beautiful for the cocky cult leader. Famous, fast-talking, and filthy rich his many followers (particularly the female ones) treat him as a role model, escape route, and god. One hot night, he picks up a young woman called Rumi (Kiko Mizuhara) and takes her out on a drunken drive that turns out to be less of a cruise to short-term earthly pleasures than a fateful ride into the unknown: they crash the fancy sports car, kill a motorcyclist, leave Rumi in a coma, and Rui in deep trouble. The young guru miraculously escapes physically unscathed, but during that brief ride some kind of restlessness has stirred within his soul. And that’s when events start to spin out of control.
To shelter him from the media and the police, Rui’s cantankerous mother (Michiyo Okusu) and sister (Mayu Harada), who run the business side of the cult, stash him on an island with three bodyguards: yakuza-esque goons who have been hired in for the occasion—a rough-and-tumble underworld enforcer who’s obviously kicked around (Shigeru Nakano of classic punk band Anarchy); a hot-blooded motor-mouthed blowhard (Kento Nagayama); and a freeze-dried, unsmiling angel of death (Ryuhei Matsuda) who soon stands as Rui’s natural nemesis, despite his assignment to protect him. Nonetheless, the newly formed wolf pack heads off south, to Okinawa, where they lay low in the cult leader’s princely mansion. Shortly after, tensions arise on the island: civilities and philosophical views are first patiently exchanged or endured between blades of southern sunlight, but they’re soon replaced by the sound of gunfire and brimstone. It’s getting hot out there and one starts to suspect the rising heat does not come down from heaven above.
Director Toshiaki Toyoda will attend the screening.
Thursday July 11, 8:30PM Japan Society Buy Tickets